Students Study Sustainability in South Korea and Japan

The Center for Asian Business organizes a course each summer called “Global Sustainability: Challenges and Prospects in East Asia” that takes a closer look at what’s happening in business strategy today through the ‘lens’ of sustainability: balancing company profitability with meeting long-term social and environmental needs.

Management Professor Charlie Vance accompanied 26 juniors and seniors to Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo, Japan from May 20 – June 4 to learn about sustainability practices in East Asia. The course explored corporate sustainability challenges and opportunities in a global context with a particular emphasis on East Asian countries. Twenty-four hours of instruction was taught on Saturdays during the spring semester before students traveled overseas. One Saturday morning featured a fascinating environmental awareness presentation followed by a service project at the nearby Ballona Wetlands ecological reserve.

“This course does a great job in combining rigorous academic study with very meaningful local and international field experience that has a powerful impact on students’ lives,” said Vance.

Highlights from a week in South Korea included a scavenger hunt in Seoul, a walking tour of the newly-reclaimed land “smart city” of Songdo, a tour of Nami Island, a briefing and tour of the IFEZ (Incheon Free Economic Zone) and company visits to the Seoul Global Center, CityNet, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Samsung Innovation Center.

In assessing the overall course experience, junior economics major Jordan Udom stated, “I had an incredible time on the trip and got to make some unforgettable memories with great people. One of the many things I took away from this course was becoming more aware of a driving present-day challenge: to find a sustainable future for our world.”

Highlights from a week in Japan included a scavenger hunt in Tokyo, social hour with local Japanese students, a guest lecture by the executive director of the nonprofit food safety net Second Harvest Japan, Minato Incineration Plant, Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and a visit to Adidas regional headquarters (photo above).

In commenting on what made her visit to Adidas particularly memorable, senior accounting major Kelly Truong said, “Amongst all the issues surrounding large companies and cheap labor, it was really refreshing to know that Adidas is a company that practices sustainability at high level standards and expectations rather than by doing the bare minimum.”